UTMB hosted its fifth annual Preemie Reunion Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Moody Medical Library Plaza. The carnival-themed event offers families whose premature babies may have spent weeks or even months in UTMB’s neonatal intensive care unit the opportunity to come back together after sometimes bonding very deeply with each other and their medical team during the course of their newborns’ hospitalization.
Each year, families who have had babies born prematurely over the course of the past three years are invited to attend the event, according to Dr. Sunil Jain, assistant professor of neonatology, who originated the reunion and spearheads it each year. Some older “preemies” now in their teens also come to the event each year as well.
This year, nearly 300 guests attended the event which featured games, crafts, clowns, animal characters, balloons, face painting and refreshments. All the booths are staffed by members of UTMB’s neonatal intensive care staff.
UTMB delivers more than 6,000 babies every year. About 500 of these babies are ill or premature at birth and require the most comprehensive infant intensive care available.
Many families receive their prenatal care from one of UTMB’s 14 Regional Maternal Child Health Clinics and then travel to Galveston’s John Sealy Hospital to deliver –where the level of comprehensive maternity care for high-risk pregnancies is much higher than at most community hospitals.
Thus the families who attend the UTMB Preemie Reunion in Galveston each year are a far-flung bunch coming from as far as Angleton, Beaumont, Conroe, Katy, McAllen, Nacogdoches and New Caney — some of the many locations where UTMB has clinics.
“We feel so proud to see these extremely premature babies — some of them born as much as four months before their expected date of delivery — growing up and doing so well,” said Jain.
The event is organized by Jain along with nurses Yesenia Sandino, Amanda Garcia, Lavonda Morgan and occupational therapist Teri Tullous with the support of Dr. Joan Richardson, chairwoman of the Department of Pediatrics.